New program offers stable housing for RPS students and families

New program offers stable housing for RPS students and families

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A new program called Our Center for Families in Transition (C-FIT) is helping some Richmond families and students find new hope.

“I just cried and cried,” said Demeka Artis.

Artis, a mother of three, had lost all hope earlier this year. Money was about to run out and that meant she and her family would soon be out on the streets.

“I didn’t have any more funds to pay for my hotel,” said Artis.

But the C-FIT program is helping Artis and others get what they need including a permanent place to call home.

“It’s been helpful because I have a key now, and I can go in and out of my own place,” said Artis. “We all have somewhere to live. And not bunched up in one bed or two beds.”

Over the next year, Richmond Public Schools and Housing Families First want to help 130 students move from motel rooms or living in a car into stable housing.

Housing Families First is a provider of crisis housing services in the Richmond area. The group has helped a pair of families in Henrico County as well.

“I can’t imagine anything being more important than just having a stable place to rest your head at night and we have so many families who are struggling through no fault of their own,” said Jason Kamras, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent.

So far, the school division connected six families with 15 students to permanent housing with an additional two families getting help next week.

“We do a lot more than teach reading and writing at RPS,” said Kamras.

The program also supports families with the goal of ensuring all students graduate with a high school diploma and offers up clothing, school supplies and weekly grocery deliveries.

“Make sure they have some type of stability, especially with the virtual learning and stuff that’s going on,” said Lakeshia Allen, an RPS Family Support Specialist. “To have someplace to call your own instead of living at hotels or couch surfing or staying at a friend’s house different days, not knowing where you’re going to stay the next day.”

Artis is the first to go through the program. All she can say is she’s grateful for the help and to others out there still struggling, she has this to say.

“Don’t ever give up,” said Artis. “You give up there is no one else there to help you.”

If you or a family you know is experiencing a housing transition, complete C-FIT’s online housing survey or call C-FIT at 804-780-6288 for support.

For more information on Housing Families First, click here.

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